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Lake district needed for Big Sand Lake PDF Print E-mail

Dear Editor:

We, the board of Big Sand Lake Property Owners Association, read with interest Jim Prodehl’s letter concerning Big Sand Lake in the Jan. 30 paper and would like to offer another perspective.

We agree with Jim that you can’t have too much communication, but the fact remains that numerous mailings were sent out to all property owners by the association and the county, and the topic was discussed at the annual meeting.

Jim’s comments sound like he was not happy with the timing of the meetings. Timing is dictated by protocol, statute and other circumstances. The best that can be said is that the timing was mutually inconvenient for all parties concerned.

The bigger issue revolves around the concept that lakes are owned by the citizens of the state. Isn’t it a wonderful thing that the lakes are indeed owned by all? In many other states and countries, access to water is severely restricted to only those who can afford to pay expensive access fees. The demand for lake funding is great. The state simply doesn’t have the resources to meet all demands, but the state has stepped up for Big Sand, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. By design, they form partnerships with associations and districts that demonstrate a serious commitment of time and money to rehabilitate and protect the lakes into the future.

If the public finds that a lake doesn’t provide a quality experience, they just go to a different lake. Lake property owners can’t simply do that. Some say, “The state owns the lake and should pay,” and others say, “The property owners should pay because it directly benefits their investment.” Who’s right? Both, but property owners have the most to lose.

The county board needs to strike a balance. They must consider how reduced property values will affect tax dollars and how best to share the cost. Isn’t it in the best interests of all parties to maintain a healthy lake and assure that property values don’t decline? It benefits everyone. The public at large benefits from clean lakes, other lakes in the region benefit from the fact that the risk of infection from one lake to another is reduced and the local community benefits from the tax dollars and the visitors. Anything else is shortsighted.

Every dollar spent has a direct, immediate and tangible benefit to the lake, the public and the property owner. Funds can only be raised by the lake district board and every property owner has a vote, whether seasonal or resident. It is the best example of real democracy in action. Donations are just not enough for the long run. Those who do not contribute but directly benefit are by any definition “not fair” to those who do, but the fairness argument is used by both sides of the issue.

At some point, the volunteers will get tired of carrying those who don’t care. To paraphrase Congressman Ryan, the world is made up of makers and takers and we believe that applies to issues like. Some are willing to take the benefits provided by others without sharing in the cost.

The lakes of Vilas County are a treasure and they are under increasing threats. We believe it is in the best interests of the community, the state, the taxpayers and the property owners to share equitably in the cost of protecting these assets, our beautiful lakes. This can best be accomplished through the formation of a lake district.

Mike Schulz



Big Sand Lake Property Owners Association

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:42 PM

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